Five Good Reasons to Create a Virtual Infrastructure

If you need to justify the move to a virtual infrastructure, you have it: Money. And, now you can prove it by putting numbers to these five good reasons.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor on

Everyone has his own reasons for wanting to move toward a virtual infrastructure. Are there reasons that are better than others for doing so? Yes, there are. There are a lot of very bad reasons to move to a virtual infrastructure. Some of those very bad reasons are quite compelling. But, there are five very good reasons to create a virtual infrastructure. And, yes, all of them relate to money.

The primary reason that businesses look toward virtualization is cost savings. Cost savings is an extremely important aspect of doing business. Lowering costs and raising profitability, while delivering a quality product or service is simply good business practice. If you look at all of the failed businesses over the past ten years, you'll note one glaring similarity: They weren't interested in cost savings. It's as if, the C-level executives wanted the businesses to fail by failing to curb their spending habits.

Virtualization is a money-saving technology. A basic premise of business is that you have to spend money to make money. And, as my wife tells me every time she goes shopping, sometimes you have to spend money to save money.

$. Server Number Reduction - When you decide to move to virtualization, one of the promises is that you'll reduce the number of physical systems that you have to deal with. And, it's true. Even if your VM per host density is 12 to 1, you've saved a lot of money by removing twelve physical servers from your inventory and placing them onto a single one. Sure, that single system is expensive, but is it twelve times more expensive than the total cost of the twelve single systems?

$$. Data Center Footprint Reduction - When you reduce the numbers of physical servers in your inventory, you also greatly reduce the amount of rack space you consume. That translates into a huge savings, especially if you're renting space from a data center provider. In your own data center, it means decreased power and cooling, which can save you a bundle as well.

$$$. Maintenance Window Reduction - Virtual machines need maintenance but if you multiply the amount of time required to reboot individual physical systems by the number of years you service a system, the number is significant. Granted that this number is mostly Windows-oriented because patching of Linux and UNIX systems typically don't require reboots. Regardless of the operating system involved, you'll save labor hours waiting for systems to return to a usable state. VMs generally reboot in five minutes or less, while their physical counterparts can take almost a half hour--depending on attached hardware and system services involved in startup.

$$$$. Personnel Reduction - As a techie, I'm not particularly fond of this one but the reality of business is that people are expensive. And, virtualization provides an excellent way to reduce personnel costs. You might have the same number of systems overall to support but since they're virtual, the physical system support drops to near zero. Someone still has to support the virtual host hardware. However, if you reduce the number of physical systems from 300 to 30, you've greatly reduced the number of hands needed to touch that physical hardware.

$$$$$. System Management - Think of physical systems and then think of virtual ones. Can you add an additional hard disk remotely to a system, while it's running and make that disk available to it? No? You can with a virtual machine. You can also add network interfaces to a VM without physically touching it. If I receive a request to add an additional 50GB to a VM, I can provide usable space to the system in less than five minutes. Same with network. Adding additional CPUs and memory requires a shutdown but I don't have to trudge into the data center, pop a case, insert the hardware and boot backup--a process that could take an hour or more from badge-in to badge-out at the data center. Instead, it takes me less than ten minutes to perform that same action on a VM. Time is money and that's a tremendous time savings.

How does virtualization save you money? Write back and let me know.

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